04/05/2011 June 2011: “Objective 3: A challenge for territorial cooperation – the future agenda for cross border, transnational and interregional cooperation”

During the June plenary session, French MEP Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (EPP) will present her report on the European Union’s cohesion policy, entitled, “Objective 3: A challenge for territorial cooperation – the future agenda for cross border, transnational and interregional cooperation.” It is mainly about objective 3 – European territorial cooperation, which supports the financing of projects that relate to cross border regions or transnational cooperation.

The cohesion policy aims to improve social and territorial cohesion within the European Union but also to promote sustainable growth. To achieve this, the European Commission finances projects using three funds: the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.

Structures that want to run projects must fit in to one of the three defined objectives for the period 2007-2013: ‘convergence’, ‘regional competitiveness and employment’ and ‘European territorial cooperation’. The latter has a budget of €7.5 billion which is 2.52% of the regional policy budget.

With her report, the French MEP therefore hopes to give greater importance and visibility to objective 3 by simplifying the process for those who wish to carry out a project.

In her text, she suggests raising the portion of the budget for this objective to 5% and allocating funds at community level through a programme of cooperation, rather than at national level. These proposals are in line with the Commission’s view as it has already stated that it would like to reach the symbolic 5% threshold.

Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid

is a member of the parliamentary committee on regional development. She was nominated rapporteur for this subject on June 3 2010.

The report also suggests that territorial cooperation be better integrated into other operational programmes and complemented by a territorial approach in community policies. This could mean, for example, better interaction between the ERDF and other financing tools like the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).

Strengthening objective 3 necessitates increasing the number of cross border cooperation groupings (EGCC) and facilitating the setting up of these groupings. In the project for example, there is a proposal that EGCCs that include partners from non-member countries may be created.

However, to achieve results, all these reforms must be streamlined for simplification, according to the report. Less complicated and more flexible procedures will mean that the accounting authorities can concentrate on the candidates’ strategic measures rather than administrative issues.

Finally, visibility is presented as a cornerstone of territorial cooperation in this draft report because, until now, it has not been well known. Promoting it at all levels could be reinforced by a Commission-led campaign in the cross border regions or perhaps by all stakeholders involved in the implementation of this cooperation using a common logo. 

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